DynoQuest is addictive dyno-mite

Posted: July 28, 2009 in Puzzle

We’ve all played our share of matching games, and match-3 is probably one of the more popular for the iTunes platform. So when DynoQuest crossed my desk, a match 4 game similar to classic games such Magical Drops and AstroPop, I knew I had to try it. As addictive as those games are, DynoQuest is just as addictive and lighthearted with a few extra touches that make this a winner.

The dev behind DynoQuest is StormBASIC who’s developed other high-quality games including shooter 7Days Apocalypse (ZombieHunter) and puzzler Ankagua3D XL. It’s no surprise that DynoQuest is visually polished and others smooth well thought out gameplay. The objective in DynoQuest is to collect and group 4 or more diamonds of the same color to eliminate them from the screen until you fill the level bar. The game uses a vertical playing field with gradually descending rows of colored diamonds. You control a little triceratops dinosaur at the bottom of the screen who can grab up to 3 diamonds at once and place them anywhere on the screen.

The first you’ll notice when you first start up the game is the fun music similar to what you would hear in Japanese cartoons. It’s very lively and upbeat, and sets the tone for the game. The game offers vibrant colors and backgrounds which if anything will cheer you up especially after clearing a level and your triceratops buddy turns around to celebrate. In many ways, DynoQuest is an ideal game for the kids because it will keep them busy. DynoQuest offers two modes of play: Classic and Endless. Endless is the survival mode where the objective is to complete as many matches as possible before the descending rows fill the screen. Here the game gradually increases in difficulty, and for my purposes provides a solid quick play option. Classic, on the other hand, will take you through levels that begin rather easy, but ramp up in difficulty quickly. Classic also includes the Next Level bar which you must fill up before completing and moving to the next level.

DynoQuest has two controls: screen pad and touch/swipe. On the right side are two buttons—one for collecting diamonds in the triceratops’ mouth and another for throwing them. In general, I found the touch/swipe to the easier of the two to use because it feels more natural and you can use the entire bottom part of the screen to move your little triceratops. With the screen pad, two little controller arrows appear in the lower left corner and I found my fingers would occasionally miss the buttons. Otherwise, the controls are all very responsive. Right above those buttons is the Next Level bar, which is only present in Classic mode and must filled to move to the next level.

DynoQuest has its own variety of special bricks which can either help or hinder you. Mostly they help, but there is one that can be a problem especially is the screen is quickly filling up. The issue with the special bricks is that they are immovable and can only be broken and in some cases by creating a combo match near them. These include:

Stone—a pain to eliminate
Ray—a ray appears destroying an entire row
Bomb—an explosive that blows up diamonds in its vicinity
?—this drops a special power up that your triceratops must collect

Once collected, these power ups can be activated at any time by tapping the Magic Button located in the upper right corner. The power ups are:

Time—Delays the spawn of new rows of bricks by 10 seconds
Ray—A vertical ray that destroys a column of bricks
Up—An arrow that destroys the first 3 rows
Star—A bonus that adds points to your score

The gameplay is addictive and the online scoreboard is a good incentive for replayability. As you get deeper into DynoQuest, the levels become more difficult with more scrambled diamonds that require more rearranging before matches can be made to clear the rows. The game’s eye-catching colors and occasional cheering when rows are cleared make this a favorite. Unlike the backgrounds that change after every 2 levels, one thing that could use some variety is the soundtrack because it is the same throughout the game regardless of level. While kids may like it, some adults may get a little peeved.

DynoQuest offers simple yet challenging gameplay that many will go back to time and again. It’s a polished, well designed and presented game, one that I’ve come to expect from StormBASIC and should appeal to those looking for a casual pick-up-and-play.

Albie Meter: 4 Stars (lighthearted casual game that provides challenge to the mature gamer while also the presentation to appeal to kids)

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